Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH.
Saturday, February 25, 2017.
Goffstown v. Windham, 11:30am. Senior Day.
Max and game-winners against Windham are becoming an annual event. Last year, on March 2nd, Max Lajeunesse scored an overtime, game-winning goal to beat eventual Division II State Champs, Windham, 2-1. Today after a very nice ceremony to honor Goffstown’s 7 senior players and their families, Max did it again. Lajeunesse scored the overtime, game-winner, at 4:17 of the overtime to send the Windham Jaguars home with a 4-3 loss.
The Grizzlies notched their second consecutive come from behind, 4-3 win this week, to finish the regular season with the school’s best regular season record in many years, at 12-6. Coach Ben Slocum, Assistants, Shane Tufts, John Nanof, and Kyle Daly should be recognized for their efforts behind the bench and on the practice ice. The Grizzlies came ready to play, and played to win even though the game had no effect on the final standings, or seeding for the tournament. This group has come to play, and competed for 45 minutes (or more) every single game this season. These kids just want to play hockey. Slocum is now 22-13-1 in two regular seasons behind the bench as the head coach.
Before we start, seven senior players played their last regular season home game today. It’s an odd group this year, in a sense, because only 3 of the 7 senior players had played varsity hockey last year. With a renewed energy, spirit, and air of opportunity around the program after Coach Slocum’s rookie season as head coach, players came back, or tried out for the first time. Maggie Fifield, a sensational women’s player, played this year, and became the first female to score a varsity goal in Goffstown hockey history. Mike Siemiesz returned to the ice after playing some as a sophomore. Gavin Macentee tried out and played varsity hockey this year. Mickey Bridgeman who has played hockey most of his life, also returned to play varsity hockey this season. Then there are the three that wear letters on their jerseys, besides the G. Dylan Hyers and Tyler Riendeau are the alternate captains, while Nick Nault wears the C, as captain. I, for one, am so glad that new kids tried out, and for the kids that came back.
In my opinion there are not many more valuable lessons than learning and understanding what it means to truly be a part of something that is greater than yourself. I hope all of this year’s players have felt that, and understand it. 30 years from now, some of these kids will gather again as adults, and without question, they will discuss something from this shared time over the last 3+ months. It’s a special time in life, and today was a special moment in time for all of them. I wish all of the seniors the very best as they move forward through their lives.
Amidst the shuffling of lines to get the seniors some playing time, and coming off of an emotional pre-game ceremony, the Grizzlies fell behind quickly. Owen McNamara scored an unassisted goal for Windham at 1:18. McNamara’s shot knuckled, and looked to be going high, maybe over the net, when it struck a Goffstown defenseman, and found the net behind Kyle LaSella.
There was nothing LaSella could do as the puck changed direction and entered the net just below the crossbar. Windham came into their final regular season game with a record of 12-4-1 and having the #3 seed all locked up for the tournament. The Grizzlies who didn’t generate many shots in the opening period, did make the best of their chances. First, on a kind of broken play, Mickey Bridgeman threw a pass from the left-wing corner to some open space in the high slot. Nick Nault who was at the right point, quickly recognized where the puck was headed, and got to the open space. Nault collected the puck, made a quick move around a Jaguar forward, and ripped a shot that got a piece of Max Daly’s goalie stick, but still found the net. The goal came at 4:01, Nault from Bridgeman. While Goffstown weathered more scoring chances created by the speedy Windham forwards, the Grizzlies took a penalty. Dylan Hyers was whistled for a holding penalty trying to slow up the speedy Jaguars.
While shorthanded the Goffstown penalty kill unit executed a beautiful hockey play. Nick Nault dumped the puck to an off-wing corner where only the hustling Noah Charron could get the puck. Charron turned, putting himself between the defender and the puck and centered a pass to Sebastian Beal who takes pride in getting to the front of the net. Beal’s shot was quick and accurate, finding the strings, for a shorthanded goal giving the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead. The goal was scored at 7:59, Beal from Charron and Nault. The score would remain 2-1 after one period, but Windham led in shots 12-5.
Early in this game Windham’s Tim Anderson ran into a heavy hit from Goffstown’s 6’6″ defenseman, Dylan Hyers. Unfortunately, the hit rocked Anderson, and he struggled mightily to get back to his own bench. Once he reached the bench, it was clear from across the ice, that this young man was not doing too well. With a stoppage in play, the trainer, Beth Rouin raced across the ice to assist Anderson, now laying on the floor of the bench area for Windham. After a few minutes, Anderson reappeared and nodded to the folks in the arena giving him an ovation. Anderson would eventually head to the locker room. I speak for the Goffstown hockey community when I say that we certainly do wish him well, and that there will be no limitations to his future as a result of today.
Windham showed that their penalty kill unit isn’t too shabby either. Slick skating speedster, Nolan Cunningham collected on a pair of passes from Dan Donovan and Matt Crowley before flying into the offensive zone and beating Kyle LaSella through the five-hole. Cunningham can fly, and he finished strong, with the shorthanded goal at 7:20.
Dylan Hyers and Sebastian Beal almost made something out of nothing while forechecking. They were outnumbered 3 to 2 plus the goaltender, but somehow Hyers managed to get the puck from behind the net and center it to Beal. Beal got two shots away, but Max Daly made a pair of brilliant saves to keep the game tied. Cunningham’s goal would be the only goal of the period, and by the end of the period, Windham and Goffstown would each get 10 shots on goal. Despite the 10 shots for Goffstown, over the last 4 minutes the Grizzlies looked slow, and looked like they were barely hanging on. Nick Nault and Noah Charron were called for slashing and high-sticking penalties just 43 seconds apart. The penalties gave Windham tremendous opportunities to score, but team defense, and Kyle LaSella kept the Jaguars from taking the lead. The score was tied 2-2 going to the third period.
The third period had barely started, and the Grizzlies had just finished killing off Noah Charron’s high-sticking penalty, when Windham took the lead again. Dan Donovan scored the goal at 0:29, with assists going to Tyler Toohey and Jake Aleksa. Windham led 3-2, and after a second period that looked like the home team was out of gas, this wasn’t a good scenario for Goffstown. Then, over the next 14:31, Windham registered just one shot on goal, and the Grizzlies undoubtedly got their second wind. Goffstown was getting chances to score, but Max Daly was turning everything away. Then on, yet another offensive possession, Davin Granahan was called for cross-checking Sebastian Beal up high, in the back, out in front of the net. The Granahan penalty was maybe the lift that Goffstown needed, because it took only 43 seconds for the Grizzlies to tie the score. Tyler Riendeau scored on the power play after being set up by Noah Charron and Nick Nault. The goal came at 11:56 of the third period, and the game was tied with 3:04 to play. Goffstown would outshoot the Jaguars 11-3 in the period and take some momentum into the overtime period.
3:33 into the overtime, Goffstown was called for a bench minor, too many men on the ice. The penalty gave Windham a power play opportunity to end the game in sudden death. Goffstown wasn’t about to let that happen. The Grizzlies actually applied so much pressure while shorthanded, that they had the better chances. Goffstown created a turnover in the Jaguars defensive end, when Noah Charron broke up a pass and barreled into the zone.
Owen McNamara got his stick up high and hit Noah, with Tyler Riendeau racing to the net, and the puck nowhere near Charron, the official’s arm went up. The call was for interference, and just 19 seconds into the penalty kill for the Grizzlies, the disadvantage was over. Play resumed with both teams skating 4 per side. This opened up the ice quite a bit. It only took 25 seconds for the Grizzlies to complete the come from behind victory. First, Max Lajeunesse fed a gorgeous pass across the crease to Tyler Riendeau who one-timed the puck, just inches wide of the far post. Then Windham recovered the puck and worked nicely up the ice. Nick Nault hustled back on defense to break up a potential scoring bid by Dan Donovan just above the faceoff dot in the Grizzlies defensive zone. Nault took the puck away, looked up ice, and made a nice pass to hit Max Lajeunesse with some speed just over the red line.
Lajeunesse made a strong move with Jaguar defenseman, Bobby DiCicco draped all over him. Max used his speed to maintain a step on DiCicco, and worked toward his backhand, moving right to left. Just before it was too late, or before anyone could separate Max from the puck, he lifted a backhand shot towards the net. The shot was pleasing to the eye, and true as they come, beating Daly over his glove, hitting the twine, and sending Gtown nation into hysterics. Max Lajeunesse had done it again! He scored the game-winning, overtime goal to give Goffstown another, come from behind, 4-3 win. The Grizzlies had 6 shots in OT while Windham didn’t register a single one. This meant that in the final 14:31 of the 3rd period, and for 4:17 of the overtime, Goffstown had allowed just one shot to get through to Kyle LaSella in 18:48 of game time. That’s just an incredible effort by all of the Grizzlies.
Windham is a really good team. They have no real holes. They are fast and they move the puck very well. Their breakout is clean and usually executed with lots of speed. Windham will enter the tournament as the #3 seed, and look to repeat as State Champions. Goffstown finished 12-6, earning the #4 seed and a bye from playing in the preliminary round. With St. Thomas beating Lebanon-Stevens 5-1 last night, the Grizzlies will host St. Thomas on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals. This should be a good game. St. Thomas is fast, and they created numerous scoring opportunities against the Grizzlies while out shooting them 29-22 back on January 25th. Goffstown was able to win that game in overtime on a Dylan Hyers game-winner. On Wednesday night, (10) Portsmouth-Newmarket will travel to (7) Oyster River; and (9) Spaulding will travel to (8) Lebanon-Stevens.
- Keene 16-0
- Bow 15-2-1
- Windham 12-5-1
- Goffstown 12-6
- St. Thomas 11-7
- Dover 10-7-1
- Oyster River 9-8-1
- Lebanon-Stevens 9-9
- Spaulding 8-9
- Portsmouth-Newmarket 8-10
Goffstown (12-6) @ Windham (12-5-1)
3rd Windham at 0:29. Even. Dan Donovan from Tyler Toohey and Jake Aleksa.
Windham Power Play: 0 for 5.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors, mostly mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the schools, coaches, players, or characters listed in any of these blog posts. Or, maybe they do, but you would have to ask them directly. Either way, “It’s a great day for hockey” ~ the late “Badger” Bob Johnson.